By Rodolfo Andal
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over the weekend reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia following the meeting of the two leaders in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Aside from reaffirming the solidarity of the two Southeast Asian nations, Duterte expressed gratitude to Mahatir for inviting him to visit Malaysia’s capital city where they met for the first time and discussed “matters of mutual interest.”
“President Duterte and Prime Minister Mohamad renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia,” a Malacañang statement said as it disclosed that “President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level.”
Duterte, at the same time, also raised the urgency to address issues that threaten the region such as terrorism and violent extremism, transnational crime, illegal drug trade, and piracy in the high seas as he expressed his appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao.
“Both leaders stressed the importance of working closely together bilaterally and at the ASEAN to achieve shared aspirations of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for the Philippines and Malaysia, and greater stability and security in the region,” Malacañang added.
Following their meeting, the Chief Executive gave a painting of the face of the Prime Minister as a token, painted by self-taught painter Maestro Ronilo Abayan.
The President was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.
The meeting was the first for the two leaders since Mahathir’s election as the new Malaysian Prime Minister last May.
Duterte arrived in Malaysia Saturday night to show support for Senator Manny Pacquiao, who clinched the World Boxing Association welterweight belt from Argentinian boxer Lucas Matthysse via knockout in the seventh round.
Prime Minister Mahathir also watched the boxing match and gamely posed for a photo with the Filipino boxing champ and President Duterte doing the signature clenched fist gesture after the bout.